Affinity mapping

Affinity mapping, also known as affinity diagramming, snowballing, or collaborative sorting, is the process of creating an affinity diagram. Simply put, it’s when you gather qualitative information about your users and group it by category.


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To get started with affinity mapping, you need to gather information about your users through usability testing, surveys, observation, or any other method for collecting feedback. 

Once you’ve organized your feedback, you’ll be better able to identify areas that need to be addressed and have all the proof points you need for presenting (and justifying) your next steps.

Start by writing out each idea or finding on movable cards, like sticky notes. Then, you’ll need a large space (or try a real-time online whiteboard) where you can stick, organize, and rearrange the ideas. 

But what exactly are you trying to create by rearranging all these sticky notes? An affinity diagram, of course. 

What’s the difference between affinity mapping and an affinity diagram? 

An affinity diagram, sometimes also known as a cluster map, is used to organize information. Affinity mapping is the process and an affinity diagram is the output. Affinity diagrams help organize information into groups of similar items—particularly useful when analyzing qualitative data or observations.